Saturday, 31 December 2011
Well, here we are at the end of another year! I don't know how it happened. This year has just flown by with amazing speed! It's been a wonderful year though . . . with lots of good cooking and happy times shared with loved ones, friends and YOU!
Food shared with friends is the best food ever and I have really enjoyed sharing my culinary repasts with each of you over the past twelve months. I thought it would be a fun exercise today to go back over some of the most popular recipes posted in 2011, and so . . . without further adieu I bring you the deliciousness that was 2011!!
January . . .
One of my favourite posts in the month of January was the one where I did a proper English High Tea for the Toddster . . . just to break the monotony of a boring month! Oh we did have a very tasty repast with Finger Sandwiches, Jam Tarts, little Cake Fancies, Florentines and a glorious Victorian Sponge. It was great fun and something we both really enjoyed. I may do it again this year. It sure pepped up what is usually a pretty dull month!!
February . . .
Aside from the usual Valentines treats in February, I treated us to a delicious Lamb Stew with Feather Dumplings. We're both big stew nuts in this house, and this lamb stew was most delicious with it's rich gravy, tender lamb and those feather dumplings which are to die for! You can never go wrong with a delicious stew. It's my husband's favourite dish . . . next to a hearty meat pie that is!
March . . .
March brought with it the tease of spring on the horizon and with it some sunnier and brighter days. My favourite recipe that I made that month, hands down had to be the Apple and Blackberry Crumble Pavlova! Oh my but it was scrumdiddlyumptious and oh so pretty! Apple and Blackberries together, plus Crumble has to be one of my favourite combinations and to have them all together in a delicious Pavlova, well that was pure genius, if I don't say so myself!
April . . .
April brought with it some very mild temperatures and a fabulous Royal Wedding. I don't know who wasn't glued to the telly on the day that Prince William and Kate got married! It was a great day of celebration the world over and I think they are just the sweetest couple ever . . . and the sweetest recipe that month had to be The World's Best Gingerbread Cake with a Spiced Lemon Sauce. In fact I do believe that it is one of the most popular recipes on my site, getting the most hits on average. And to tell the truth, it is indeed very scrummy!! I am not in the habit of calling something the World's Best unless I actually think it is the world's best!!
May . . .
Spring had truly arrived and we were in the midst of busily planting the garden out and enjoying the warmer sunnier days. I do believe spring is one of my favourite seasons and we celebrated it deliciously with these scrummy Cranberry, Pecan and White Chocolate Flapjacks. Flapjacks are not something I had ever run across before moving over to the UK, but I have to say that I have totally embraced them with all of my heart. They are indeed such a wonderful treat, and these Cranberry, Pecan and White chocolate ones are the best!
June . . .
The warm days of June brought with it more light foods, salads and the like. We were enjoying harvesting young beans and peas from the garden. I created this deliciously delightful Summer Pea, New Potato and Pesto Tart which was one of my absolute favourites, because not only was it different, but it was beautiful to behold and oh so delicious as well!
July . . .
July brought a delightful trip down to Ipswich and Jimmy's Farm along with my friend Julie. What a fabulous couple of days we had together, touring the farm, meeting Jimmy, taking a lovely butcher class and eating some fab food. I was ever so impressed with his animal husbandry and farm and restaurant. It was just a wonderful experience altogether, and of course we all were able to bring home some fabulous meat. The Toddster is a real pork chop afficionado and he absolutely delighted in these wonderful Grilled Chops with a Hoisin Marinade and Glaze that I made with some of that lovely pork I brought back from the farm.
August . . .
We really didn't have much of a summer weather wise really. It was cold and wet and gloomy. I think we actually had our summer back in April . . . but shhhh . . . I'm not complaining. If it wasn't for the bad weather we'd never be able to truly appreciate the good! One of the favourite things I cooked in August had to be this Apple and Blackberry In and Out dessert that I got from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's mom's cookery book, The Great Granny Cookbook. It's one of my favourite cookbooks, and for good reason . . . it's filled with a lot of fantastically tasty recipes! This was the perfect dessert in which to make good use of the early season apples and those blackberries which ripened early due to having had such an early spring!
September . . .
We were away to Cumbria on our holidays with Mitzie in September . . . a holiday which just happened to co-incide with Katrina the hurricanes visit to our beautiful Sceptred Isle. It was a holiday filled to overflowing with rain, wind, rain, wind and ever more rain and wind. We still managed to enjoy ourselves anyways, even if we did arrive back home here a few days earlier than planned. (There is only so much you can occupy yourself with in a cottage in the middle of nowhere when you have an antsy cocker spaniel with you and you have left your warm coat and boots back home!) In any case we did enjoy some fab food, which is always a plus. Something that I did cook that we really enjoyed back home though was this delicious Gratin of Chard, created with some fabulous Rainbow Swiss Chard I received in my bi-weekly Vegetable box at the end of the month. My but it was some good!
October . . .
October brought us lots of deliciousness with Blue Cheese and Cheddar Stovies and the like. My favourite recipe of the month though had to be the Apple Pie Roll Ups with Custard! It was so easy and soooooo delicious! I always welcome the cooler months and the heartier recipes that come with them, don't you? I like salads too . . . but I am a glutton for autumn and winter food!
Oh please, I must show you two . . . as these were real winners as well . . .
Baked Hot Dogs Cooked one week for some hungry missionaries who really enjoyed!!
November . . .
November was full of delicious things as well, not the least of which was this fabulous Chocolate Cola Cake. The Toddster is not a real fan of chocolate cakes, but I tortured him anways because I just adore Chocolate Cake and I had some cola that I needed to road test. Oh my but this has to be the creme de la creme of chocolate cakes. SOOOOO fabulous!
It wasn't all about cake and chocolate though . . .
This Pan Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagne also went down really well . . . ahem . . . rich, delicious and very, very addictive!
Which brings us to
December . . .
There was plenty of deliciousness in December too, with all of the holiday foods and treats, but I think the Rumpled Pizza Buns deserve an honorable mention . . . coz . . . one, I love Pizza . . . two, they were easy to make . . . and three, most important of all . . . THEY WERE DELICIOUS!
So that was 2011 . . . 372 recipes . . . each one delicious in it's own right. I do hope that you enjoyed the journey through the year right along with me. Here's to 2012 and even more deliciousness!!
Happy New Year one and all!
Over in The Cottage today, the Perfect Lemon Tart!
Friday, 30 December 2011
If you are like me you always get in more than you need for Christmas food. I can never calculate it just right. I always end up with far more veg than I really need, lots of leftover turkey, stuffing and ham . . . and more mincemeat and cranberry sauce than I could ever realistically use.
I suppose that it is my "better to have too much, than not to have enough" mentality that does it. I'm sure I am not alone in that way of thinking.
It does give me a great excuse and reason to come up with ways to use the leftovers after the holidays though, which is something I really enjoy!
I do so love to invent new ways to use ordinary ingredients in extraordinary ways. It's like a game to me . . . some people enjoy doing Sudoko . . . I enjoy creating new recipes.
Like this delicious cranberry swirled breakfast cake, which I threw together to help use up some of the leftover cranberry sauce . . .
Dense and rich, with a delightful swirl of cranberry running through the middle, and a layer of crunchy toasted walnuts on the bottom. Top that with a delicious almond sugar glaze and you have something that is quite, quite scrummy . . . if I don't say so myself!
You could also use mincemeat as the swirl layer if you wanted to, or even your favourite type of fruity jam . . . which would be equally as delicious . . . but today I used cranberry sauce, and it was quite simply . . . wonderful!
*Cranberry Swirl Breakfast Cake*makes 1 9-inch cake
This is a beautiful cake to make for a special breakfast or brunch. Dense and rich with a ribbon of cranberry throughout, drizzled with an almond glaze. Delicious!
5 ounces of butter, softened (1/2 cup)
7 ounces white sugar (1 cup)
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp baking powder
8 ounces of plain flour (2 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
250ml of sour cream (1 cup)
1 tsp almond extract
8 ounces of whole berry cranberry sauce (1 cup)
2 ounces chopped toasted walnuts (1/3 cup)
For the Glaze:
4.5 ounces icing sugar (1 cup)
3 TBS milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir together the milk and almond extract. Stir in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk mixture, mixing only just to combine.
Spoon 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with 1/2 of the cranberry sauce, taking care not to let it touch the sides of the pan. Swirl it into the batter using a round bladed knife. Top with a further 1/3 of the batter. Repeat layering in the remainder of the cranberry sauce, again swirling it in with a round bladed knife. Top with the remainder of the batter, Smoothing it over all. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over all.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until firm to the touch and the top springs back when lightly touched. Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over the warm cake and serve warm.
Over in The Cottage today I'm cooking a Festive Spiced Ham!
Thursday, 29 December 2011
Parsnips were not a vegetable we had very often if at all when I was growing up. My mother did not like them at all. In fact she tells a story of her father trying to tempt her to eat just a tiny piece of one in exchange for a piece of candy (when she was a child) and she hated them so much that she couldn't even be tempted with something that was only a very rare treat.
I remember her cooking them once when I was in my teen years. She pared and sliced them into coins and then fried them in butter until they were golden brown on both sides. Oh my but there were lovely. She had been wanting to see if her tastes had changed. Alas . . . they hadn't and so that was the only time we ever had the opportunity to taste them.
As an adult I have cooked them frequently for I love them. They are delicious in stews and soups . . . mashed with butter and cream, roasted, glazed . . . any way you cook or cut them, I find them most delicious. They are well one of my favourite vegetables.
With the holidays I had quite a few of them in the vegetable bin . . . parsnips love nothing more than to be roasted and glazed and served with a roast turkey or beef . . . or ham and pork. I always get in lots because they are my favourite side dish of the holidays.
I did get in rather a lot this year though . . . but no worries for today I had enough left to make these delicious Parsnip Patties. Oh my but they are some good.
Crispy and buttery on the outsides . . . creamy and mildly spiced with a delicate flavour and sweetness on the insides . . . such a pleasure to eat.
I like to make a Cranberry Mustard to eat with them. I just whisk together equal parts of a wild cranberry sauce and Dijon mustard. It is the perfect accompaniment.
Of course you can make them a lot smaller for appetizer sized servings, about the size of a one pound coin or silver dollar will do. You'd get quite a few of these and of course would need extra oil for frying.
They are easy to make ahead of time and then just reheat in the oven when you want them. If you like parsnips, you're going to love these!
Serves 4 to 6
Creamy and sweet on the insides, crunchy on the outsides. Delicious! I like to serve them with a Dijon Cranberry Mustard which I make by whisking together equal parts of a whole berry cranberry sauce and Dijon mustard.
8 to 10 parsnips, peeled and sliced into coins
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
a dash of cayenne pepper
1 medium free range egg, beaten
1 1/2 ounces fine dried bread crumbs (about 1/3 cup)
more dried bread crumbs for rolling
oil and butter for frying
snipped parsley for garnish
Cook the parsnips in the boiling water with the 1/2 tsp of salt until tender. Drain and mash well. Allow to cool. Stir in the first lot of bread crumbs and all of the seasonings, along with the beaten egg. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill well.
Scoop the well chilled mixture out using a small handful and shape into patties. Coat with the additional bread crumbs.
Heat a few TBS of butter along with an equal amount of oil over medium heat until the butter begins to foam. Add the parsnip patties and cook until golden brown on both sides. Drain and then serve hot along with some cranberry mustard. Delicious! Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
Baking in The Cottage today, some delicious Celebrations Brownies!
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
After all the gluttony and rich food of the past few days my soul was craving something green and good for me today. I do so love a good salad . . . the Toddster . . . not so much. But I torture him with one once in a while! I'm such a bad puddy tat and I am so mean to him!!
I just adore Baby Gem Lettuces. I am not sure what the equivalent would be in North America. They are tiny lettuces, almost like miniature Romaine or Cos lettuces, about 4 inches long and compact . . . with a great colour and almost bitter flavour. They come in green and red. I suppose you could use Romaine hearts instead if that is all you can get.
I love this salad with it's simple flavours, textures and colours. You get the crisp, slightly bitter lettuce quarters . . . the creamy bite of blue cheese crumbles, the sharpness of the chopped spring onions . . . combined with the tanginess of that lovely apple cider and blue cheese dressing. Oh, it is just my favourite salad of all time. Truly. And just perfect for a light lunch after all the heavyness of the past week.
*Little Gems With a Blue Cheese Dressing*
This is one of my favourite salads. Simple ingredients, complex flavours. It all adds up to a truly delicious salad. Just perfect for these warmer days.
2 TBS cider vinegar
2 TBS heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces blue cheese
(I like to use either Cashel Blue or Stilton)
2 fat little gem lettuces
2 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 TBS sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk the vinegar and cream together with a little seasoning. Whisk in the sugar until it dissolves. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Fold in the cheese.
Wash the lettuces and dry them really well. Cut the lettuces into wedges lengthwise and fan them out on 4 chilled salad plates. Drizzle over the dressing, dividing it equally amongst the salads. Sprinkle evenly with the spring onions. Serve immediately.
In the Cottage today, Tomato & Herb Crusted Haddock.
Tuesday, 27 December 2011
We're having the missionaries over for a Boxing Day supper tonight. I'm baking a ham that I bought from Piper's Farm (and it looks mighty good too!) and I have a Pork Pie from Piper's Farm as well, and am doing an assortment of side dishes . . .
Potato Scallop, Green Bean Casserole, carrots, swede and parsnips (leftover from yesterday), Pineapple Slaw, some great homemade biscuits and cornbread and then for dessert, the piece de resistance . . .
A delicious Maraschino Cherry Cake!
Oh sure we also have the resident mince pies, leftover Christmas pud and Christmas Cake . . . but I know that these things are not really a favourite of North Americans, although I also know the lads would eat them to be polite . . . I wanted to make them something special though that they would enjoy.
This is an oldie but a goodie . . . once again a recipe from my Big Blue Binder.
It's a deliciously light and moist cake, stogged full of pretty red maraschino cherries and toasted pecans!
Slathered and filled with oodles of scrummy Vanilla buttercream icing!
I think . . . it just may go down a real treat! (I used the Opie's Maraschino Cherries that you can get over here. The syrup on them is not as thick as the one from back home, but it will do!)
I hope the lads enjoy! I do sooooo love to spoil them. Hmmm . . . I wonder what they'll think about the missing piece??? Cook's treat!
*Maraschino Cherry Cake*
Makes one 8-inch round layer cake
Two delicately pink layers of cake flecked with bits of red maraschino cherry and toasted pecans. What's not to like?
12 ounces (weight) of plain flour ( 2 1/2 cups)
7 ounces (weight) caster sugar (1 cup)
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 fluid ounces of maraschino cherry juice from the jar (1/4 cup)
6 fluid ounces of milk (3/4 cup)
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
1/2 tsp pour almond essence
4 TBS unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces (weight) of white vegetable shortening (1/4 cup)
4 large free range egg whites
18 maraschino cherries, quartered and dried with some kitchen toweling
2 ounces (weight) of chopped toasted pecans (1/2 cup)
your favourite vanilla buttercream of cream cheese frosting
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter two 8 inch cake tins. Line the bottoms with baking parchment and butter the paper. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk together the milk, cherry juice and essences.
Put the flour mixture into a bowl along with the butter, shortening, and milk mixture. Beat together until smooth. Add the egg whites and beat for 3 minutes at medium speed until light and fluffy. Fold in the quartered cherries and pecans.
Divide the mixture equally amongst the cake tins. Smooth the tops over and give them a tap on the counter to settle out any air bubbles. Bake in the centre of the heated oven for 30 minutes until wthe tops spring back when lightly touched, and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes clean. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Peel off baking paper.
Once completely cooled fill and frost with your favourite icing. Delicious and pretty!
*Perfect Vanilla Buttercream Icing*
Makes enough to fill and frost a layer cake
8 ounces (weight) butter, softened (1 cup)
12 ounces icing sugar, sifted (3 cups)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 to 2 TBS double cream
Beat the butter and sugar together on low until well blended and then continue to beat on mdeium for another few minutes until it begins to become fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and 1 TBS cream, only adding the second one if needed until you have a frosting of spreading consistency.
Cooking in The Cottage today, some delicious Haricots Verts with Pancetta and Pinenuts!